Jews around the world can all count their Hebrew blessings that an attack on a Texas synagogue on Shabbat, in an 11-hour standoff with a maniacal Muslim gunman on January 15, did not result in the kind of gruesome catastrophe Jewish people have grown accustomed to for well 2,000 years. Maybe the Lone Star State is lucky for those who wear the Star of David.
This hostage crisis targeting Jews, miraculously, did not escalate into a bloodbath. Indeed, the four worshippers, which included the rabbi, resourcefully fled the sanctuary shortly before the FBI stormed the shul and shot the terrorist.
It goes without saying that other planned attacks—in an astounding number of different nations—have not gone so well. The law of averages when it comes to Jews confronted with those who wish them harm, generally, results in more harrowing crime scenes. Hostages rarely escape.
It was true of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics; and a wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer, killed and tossed overboard on the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985; two elderly women in Paris, Mireille Knoll stabbed and then torched in her apartment in 2018, and Sarah Halimi, thrown from her balcony in 2017; also in Paris, the slaughter of four Jews in a kosher market in 2015; and in 2006, the torture and murder of Ilan Halimi by an Islamist group properly named the Gang of Barbarians; the murder of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish day school in Toulouse in 2012; the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 leaving 300 wounded and 85 dead; and, of course, closer to home, the murder of 11 at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, and, a year later, the killing of one woman and serious injuries to three others in a synagogue in Poway, California.
That’s how it usually ends up, and that’s only a partial list of Jewish targets and death tolls. In each case, except for the attacks in the synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, the assailants were Islamists and Palestinian terrorists.
That raises some interesting questions about the way in which this most recent incident of terrorism—against Jews worshipping in Colleyville, Texas, in their Beth Israel Synagogue—has been regarded and reported. And it should lead to a reckoning among Americans that no matter how many Black Lives Matter marches one joins, there will always be far more hate crimes committed against Jews than any other ethnic or racial group—by a wide margin.
But expect no such reckoning.
And it should lead to a reckoning among Jews that they are not so safe in America, after all, and that Orthodox Jews are especially vulnerable to outside animus, among the Jew haters, and inside indifference, among non-practicing and Reform Jews.
Expect to see no such reckoning, either.
Among other reasons, the memory of the hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, is already fading. This story with its feel-good ending has already lost momentum in keeping pace with the ever-evolving news cycle. And worse, its Jewish bona fides as a hate crime specifically targeting Jews, and as an act of terrorism against the very people who are most often terrorism’s main target, somehow got lost in translation.
The FBI’s initial investigation reported that there was no reason to conclude that this was a bias crime at all, nothing “specifically related to the Jewish community.” President Joe Biden was predictably fuzzy when he speculated that while this was an act of terror, it’s not clear why the gunman spouting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments would select a synagogue as his pulpit. The president was equally mystified by why an avowed Islamist would threaten to kill Jews unless his demands were met to release an imprisoned female al-Qaeda operative who blamed her conviction on the Jewish hold on America.
You can see how the connecting of these dots required genius levels of deductive reasoning.
It’s perhaps unfair to blame President Biden for failing to make the necessary linkage between an Islamist assailant and his Jewish victims. When he was Vice-President in the Obama administration, he probably remembered how President Barack Obama described the 2015 kosher market murders in Paris as a “bunch of folks” who were “randomly” shot by a “zealot.”
When it comes to Jews, apparently, it’s nearly impossible to draw the right conclusions about why so many of them end up dead.
Rather than solve these imponderables, the Colleyville synagogue story quickly became a nonstory, or one that was solely of human interest rather than a crime scene. It surely did not present anti-Semitic urgencies or suggest a crisis in America in its failure to protect Jews.
Indeed, once the hostages were free, the story itself was taken hostage by a media trained to downplay anti-Semitism altogether. And the Beth Israel nightmare was hijacked further by social justice warriors who are notably meek when it comes to hostility against Jews, unless that story can be spin-doctored to have even a nominal Zionist dimension. In such circumstances, especially if it flagrantly involves Israel, intersectional auxiliary forces are brought in as reinforcements, and a crime against Jews is instantly recharacterized as “they had it comin’.”
Call it: The Sympathetic Tale of Woke Terrorism.
A hostage crisis in a synagogue was ripe for distortion and dilution—primarily because the assailant was not a white supremacist, Trump supporter, or budding insurrectionist. Had the Texas gunman been a Proud Boy, a new congressional investigation would have been launched, and the Jewish minority in America would once more be regarded as a legally protected class.
How do I know this to be true? Well, the shooters in Pittsburgh and Poway were anti-immigrant white supremacists—and that’s why those cities are now synonymous with synagogue shootings. Indeed, both Alt-right assailants blamed cosmopolitan Jews for globalizing America and opening the borders to disenfranchise and replace them. We have been warned about Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” and Joe Biden’s “Big Liars.” They are America’s true enemies, a fifth column of trailer trash. It is only when they attack Jews that anti-Semitism is placed on par, provisionally, with racism and Islamophobia.
But when anti-Semitism is perpetrated by people of color, then calls for solidarity are dismissed as the exaggerated cry of the privileged elite, Jews waving a false flag, demanding special treatment, pretending to be victims rather than white oppressors.
Unlike Pittsburgh and Poway, the murder of Jews in Jersey City, New Jersey, and during Hanukkah in Monsey, New York, in December 2019, by Black Nationalists, received almost no coverage at all by the mainstream press. Similarly, attacks against Jews in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami in May 2021 by pro-Palestinian sympathizers was conveniently excused, ignored, or explained away by both the media and elected officials.
Apparently, the only story worth reporting on Colleyville was about the rabbi himself, Charlie Cytron-Walker. After all, he had developed a rapport with the terrorist, who he allowed into the synagogue earlier and even made him a glass of tea before realizing he was brandishing a gun. And it was the rabbi who 11 hours later seized an opportunity to toss a chair at their captor, enabling them all to make a break for the exit.
Throughout the day of the ordeal the rabbi was described as an interfaith leader within the greater Colleyville community. This was demonstrated by reports that his wife, and the wife of a local imam, embraced in a church where many of the local religious leaders had gathered. This was a Kodak moment that might have even warmed the heart of Congresswoman and Squad member, Ilhan Omar.
Rabbi Cytron-Walker was hailed as a devout practitioner of tikkun olam (to “repair the world”), which is Reform Judaism parlance for making social justice the centerpiece of one’s Jewish identity and showing far greater concern for the rest of the world than one’s own people. Jews, after all, so over-pampered, are never in need of repair.
These are all wonderful images of a rabbi who could very well become the poster boy for the woke left and the spiritual cousin of Bernie Sanders. Ben & Jerry’s is airlifting ice cream to Colleyville as we speak.
Progressives and their intersectional underlings have invested an enormous amount of political capital assigning roles within and creating hierarchies of oppression. And on that list, near the very top, are Jews. Stripped of their historic minority status, Jews, in the political imagination of the hard left, stand among the forever guilty white oppressor class.
It is for this reason that anti-Semitism is both an inconvenient truth and a shamefully tolerated prejudice. Jews cannot be made to look like victims, especially if those who victimize them are grandfathered in as the eternally oppressed, easily recognizable by the color of their skin. Everything about Jews, including the Holocaust, is being whitewashed by the woke’s obsession with skin color.
One of the victims in the 2019 Monsey, New York, Hanukkah killing was an Orthodox Rabbi, Josef Neumann, stabbed to death five times by an African-American assailant. Don’t be surprised that this is the first time you heard the rabbi’s name, or why attacks against Orthodox Jews, whether in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, or the Fairfax District in Los Angeles, never make the front page.
Rabbi Cytron-Walker from Colleyville, Texas, however, is a different story. Ironically, this local hero and acceptably woke Jew appears to be out of a job. He had already submitted his resignation this past fall after learning that the synagogue’s Board of Directors had decided not to renew his contract. He was not without support within the congregation. Indeed, the full membership never had an opportunity to vote; Cytron-Walker had already stepped down.
One of Beth Israel’s congregants not sad to see the rabbi go posted on Facebook that Cytron-Walker referred to Israel as an “apartheid state.” Among Reform rabbis, such a comment is, tragically, not unique.
What is unique is how his departure may come to symbolize the meaning of woke terrorism—where a potential terrorist who had lived in an Islamist “no-go-zone” in the United Kingdom, and who appeared on an MI5 watch list, was welcomed inside a synagogue and given tea.
It will now become politically incorrect to question the wisdom of that judgment.